Once dubbed former special counsel Robert Mueller’s “pit bull” during the Trump administration, Andrew Weissmann now finds himself on the defensive.
The far-left partisan, who transitioned from the DOJ to being an MSNBC “legal analyst,” is being sued for libel by former Trump White House ethics lawyer Stefan Passantino. The latter’s allegation revolves around a social media post involving star January 6th committee witness Cassidy Hutchinson.
In the post, Weissmann accused Passantino of “coaching” Hutchinson to “lie.” Just a week later, Passantino has now struck back.
JUST IN: Trump WH ethics lawyer Stefan Passantino sues former Mueller deputy Andrew Weissmann for libel over this tweet below. Glad @kyledcheney was left out of it! Doc: https://t.co/amN9TnmaGP https://t.co/VeZQ5b7RZH
— Josh Gerstein (@joshgerstein) September 22, 2023
Here’s the opening of the complaint.
Stefan Passantino is an attorney with a 30-year history of representing his clients honorably and ethically and, like all attorneys, depends upon his reputation to earn a living. Defendant Andrew Weissmann—a partisan former-prosecutor and top deputy to Special Counsel Robert Mueller turned MSNBC “legal analyst”—has publicly impugned that reputation, claiming that Mr. Passantino coached his client, Cassidy Hutchinson, to lie in congressional testimony. This is an insidious lie. Mr. Passantino never coached Ms. Hutchinson to lie, nor did he attempt to shape her testimony in any way.
The filing also notes that Hutchinson formerly testified under oath that Passantino never told her to lie.
Ms. Hutchinson even testified, under penalty of law: “I want to make this clear to you: Stefan [Passantino] never told me to lie. . . .He told me not to lie.” Defendant was aware of this testimony, but still chose to smear Mr. Passantino in advancement of his newfound career as a partisan political pundit.
Weissmann has long been an insidious figure to Republicans. Even before he helped lead the Russian collusion witch hunt, he had a history of questionable dealings within the DOJ. For example, he was accused of misleading a jury during the Enron saga, leading to a conviction that was overturned with a 9-0 vote by the Supreme Court.
When Weissmann joined Mueller’s team, he was seen as the primary driver, pushing to indict everyone in Trump’s orbit, whether that be for process crimes or offenses typically not enforced (such as FARA violations). Perceptions of Weissmann were seemingly confirmed once he signed on with MSNBC and began to share his political opinions. At that point, his leanings became clear.
As to the merits of Passantino’s case, I can’t say whether they are strong. Clearly, Hutchinson did testify that she was not told to lie. That is in direct contradiction with Weissmann’s claim. Can Passantino show he suffered some kind of harm? I guess we’ll find out.
Still, it’s funny to see Weissmann on the other side for once. He spent his career pushing the boundaries at the DOJ (and allegedly pushing past them) to try to intimidate people. Now, he will have to defend in court why he said what he said.